Series review: United States of Asgard by Tessa Gratton
Book 1: The Lost Sun
Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.
Available on Amazon.com: The Lost Sun: Book 1 of United States of Asgard
The world was so real, the characters so deep, the adventure so gripping. It is the world any fan of norse mythology would love to live in. Soren and Astrid are intriguing and intricately complicated teenager characters both with ill-fated parents who's shadows linger over them and both struggle to work out if such histories are a blessing or a curse.
Their adventures and quest across this alternative United States is full of detail and precious moments between each other and such moments become even more powerful when great figures from norse mythology become involved when the 'Sun God' does not rise as expected. Their journey reveals a landscape where trolls haunt natural parklands and where Loki-kin travellers roam and trade. Yet fate has in so many small and yet significant ways linked the two together that when faced with a possible future apart both will fight against it, even if it means fighting the Gods themselves. The plot is amazing and full of twists and turns and we learn as much about Soren and Astrid as they learn and grow closer together throughout their travels which only makes us care about them more and more. The last third is full of so many surprises that it really does shock the reader as each new challenge is faced and makes for a truly dramatic ending.
The only flaw I have with this book and it is more of a personal opinion is the way Tessa has amalgamated Freya, goddess of war and love, also head of the Valkyries, with Hel and the Prophetess. It does work for the plot (I won't say where) but as a person who has read a lot on the Gods it just felt like stretching the mythology a bit too much.
Either way if you have teenagers who are getting bored with vampires, werewolves, angels, or other supernaturals then this is the book for them. It is new, it is refreshing and incredibly exciting to read. Can't wait for the next book in this amazing world.
Tessa has brought the Aesir back to life in the same way Bernard Cornwell resurrected the power and fame of the historical vikings. She is my new favourite Norse Fantasy writer alongsie Joanne Harris, Betsy Tobin, AK Morgen, Ingrid Paulson and TG Ayer. Can't recommend this one enough.
Book 2: The Strange Maid
Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that's exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy's destiny.
Available on Amazon.com: The Strange Maid: Book 2 of United States of Asgard
OMG OMG OMG OMG IT REALLY IS THAT GOOD NOT JUST GOOD BUT AMAZINGLY BREATHTAKINGLY JAW-DROPPINGLY GOOD!
Yes my use of caps is ABSOLUTELY 100% justified.
The Lost Son (USofA Bk1) blew me away, like Neil Gaiman's American Gods blew me away with its sheer depth, quality, detail and genius imagination - in The Strange Maid, where Tessa focuses on my favouritist Norse mythical character of all time VALKYRIES - I am officially in space with pure awe and respect for how one person can create such a realistic alternative world with all its politics, culture, beliefs and services/systems in place. And still after all this EPIC world building she has the energy and drive to create a tale nay an adventure of heart-stopping moments, shivers of fear and always leaving the reader gasping for more like they have just been deprived of oxygen YET there is never a heavy handed description or line - each word is clearly carefully crafted and some of the imagery used in descriptions of EVERYTHING effectively are utter visual poetry and even sound delicious when spoken outloud (yes I tried I loved it that much).
The plot is as intricate and so full of twists, turns, dives, and yes high points that it's like Tessa has turned a Jelling style twisted beast carving into a literary form.
Anyone who reads this will not be disappointed and will equally excited and impressed for Tessa raising the bar so high following the first book, Lost Sun.
I strongly urge anyone who enjoyed Joanne Harris's Runemarks, Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Kate O'Hearns Valkyrie, Ingride Paulson's Valkyrie Rising and any other norse myth/fantasy author you can think of! READ TESSA GRETTON!
Book 3: The Apple Throne
There is only one person in the whole world who remembers the famous prophet Astrid Glyn: the berserker Soren Bearstar. Ever since Astrid agreed to give up her life, her name, and her prophetic dreams to become Idun the Young, the almost-goddess who protects the apples of immortality in a secret mountain orchard, she's been forgotten by everyone. Everyone except Soren. For the last two years he's faithfully visited her every three months. Then one day he doesn't come. Though forbidden to leave the orchard, Astrid defies the gods by escaping with a bastard son of Thor to find Soren. But ancient creatures are moving in the mountains beneath the country. They are desperate to leave the shadows and Astrid's quest might be the key they need. Not-quite-a-goddess, but no longer only a girl, Astrid finds herself in a situation where fate-and not just her own-lies in the balance. Is there a way to save herself and those she loves, or will this choice unravel the ancient magic holding the nine worlds together?
Wow! Lost Sun was Sorens tale. Strange Maid was Signys. And Astrid aka Idunn finally has hers. And what an adventure. It was also exciting with several new key characters as well as meeting Signy and Soren again. We also go even deeper into the wonderful world Tessa has created. Like every good storyteller you may think you know how it all works from book one and book two but book three is always expected to blow the other two out of the water and it did. So much so I finished half of this book in 3-4hrs of solid reading in one evening. I literally could not put it down.
Available on Amazon.com : The Apple Throne
Three Novellas - The Weight of Stars
The United States of Asgard is a nation of poets and warriors, of rock bands and evangelical preachers, of gods and their children. The media tracks troll sightings and reality TV is about dragon slaying and teen prophets. The president rules the country alongside a council of Valkyrie, and the military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating the threat of Greater Mountain Trolls.
Available on Amazon.com: The Weight of Stars
Absolutely amazing writing and more exciting adventures with incredible characters in United States of Asgard. Lady Beserker has to be my favourite as we get to know more of Vider from Lost Sun. I am truly heartbroken this beautiful alternative world full of magic and mythology will no longer be explored. It is a world I have loved from page 1 and Tessa has created wonderful artistic imagery and detail with crafted expressions that match Neil Gaiman for their originality and spark.
She is one of my favourite Norse fantasy author alongside Joanne Harris, Betsy Tobin, A K Morgen and Amalia Dillon.
Want to adventure throught the lands of the Vikings? The height of the Vikings is an amazing period of time and there is a lot of great fiction that is based on historical facts from that period and place. Rebecca Wilson has written a guide to the genre and to some of the best works in the genre.
If you are fascinated by the subject of Vikings you should check out her blog at: http://www.soulchaserbecky.blogspot.com/
You can follow her on Twitter @soulchaserbecky.
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